Coronavirus United States: Cases spike after testing becomes more available

The United States has more than 14,250 cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus while 205 people have died from the pathogen, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed.

This makes the US sixth on the overall list behind China, Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany, and ahead of France and South Korea. Globally, there have been 244,421 cases confirmed and 9,890 deaths, the tracker said.

US health authorities have indicated they expect the number of cases to increase steeply in the coming days because of increased levels of testing after initial delays.

In a news briefing Thursday, President Donald Trump said he had pushed the US Food and Drug Administration to eliminate barriers to getting therapeutics to coronavirus patients.

Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would be available by prescription to treat the novel coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 20% of coronavirus patients will require hospitalization to deal with their symptoms. If the caseload rises too fast, this could quickly overwhelm healthcare infrastructure, leading to a large number of preventable deaths.

The United States doesn’t have enough ICU beds and ventilators to deal with all the coronavirus patients in the coming weeks. If this situation isn’t rectified soon, the country’s death rate could soar to levels seen in Spain and Italy.

According to an analysis by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, there are less than 100,000 ICU beds in the United States. This isn’t enough to accommodate the potential for millions of new infections — many of whom will require intensive care and ventilators to deal with extreme symptoms.

The Trump administration has deployed a navy medical ship to assist with the crisis.

The novel illness has spread to all 50 states in the union and established a foothold in several major cities where the caseload is now growing by double-digits every day.